BELLEVUE, WA — Bellevue students will not return to the classroom until January at the earliest, as coronavirus activity continues to increase in King County, according to the school district.
Earlier in the month, the district unveiled plans to resume in-person learning for Bellevue's youngest students, beginning Oct. 26. At the time, the two-week rate of new coronavirus cases by population was about 53 per 100,000 residents in King County, landing on the low end of the moderate range. By Friday, that number had grown to 92 per 100,000, placing the county back in the highest risk bracket.
In a message sent to families Thursday night, school officials said they would continue to explore options to provide some in-person opportunities for smaller groups to help meet the needs of specific students. However, a broad return to school is no longer feasible.
"Considering the current level of transmission and the steady increase we have observed over the last week, we do not feel we can successfully mitigate risks to health and safety if we are to bring larger numbers of students back into our school buildings," officials wrote. "As we mentioned in our previous health trends message, we are reviewing several metrics to determine if the time is right for a return to school."
The latest outlook for Bellevue students means:
Elementary students will only be brought back for broad in-person learning in January, following Winter Break.
Secondary students will only be brought back for broad in-person learning for the second semester of the school year.
Any decision at that time will be subject to review of the health data conditions for King County.
The district said its decision was not made lightly, and acknowledged it would likely be disruptive and disappointing for many, but students' safety remains paramount.
"Our commitment to providing the best education to our students remains strong as we all navigate this disruptive time," the district said. "We appreciate your continued support and compassion as we make the difficult decisions necessary to mitigate risks to our students, educators and staff."